Homeworkers left owed thousands after travel franchise suddenly suspends sales

Luxury Holidays agents owed thousands
By Linsey McNeill
Home » Homeworkers left owed thousands after travel franchise suddenly suspends sales

Homeworkers are understood to be owed at least £60,000 in commission payments by travel franchise Luxury Holidays and Honeymoons, which is currently not trading.

The company, which, without prior warning, told its agents to stop taking bookings in November last year, has since been issued with a strike off notice.

Unless the notice is contested within the next few weeks, it will be struck from the Companies Register and dissolved.

Several of Luxury Holidays and Honeymoons (LHH) homeworkers have told Travel Gossip they were unaware of any problems at the agency until last November when they were informed by the Operations Manager Michelle Sinclair they could no longer trade.

Launched in August 2020 by Charlotte Davies, Luxury Holidays and Honeymoons (LHH) had a commercial relationship with Andrew Earles Holidays (AEH), which is part of Midcounties Co-op.

It was set up as a branch under Andrew Earles Holidays’ ABTA licence and sold holidays under Midcounties ATOL, for which AEH took a cut of the commission before forwarding the remainder to LHH.

However, Andrew Earle, owner of AEH, said he severed the relationship in November 2023 due to concerns about how LHH was being managed. At that point, he took over all forward bookings and agents were told to stop selling. 

Andrew Earle rebranded LHH as Luxe Holidays and contracted three former LHH admin staff to handle about £2.1 million of forward bookings, but remaining LHH homeworkers are worried they won’t receive commission for these sales.

Commissions weren’t ring-fenced

Under the arrangement LHH had with AEH, LHH received commission payments about two months after booking, and under the terms of LHH’s contracts with its agents, this was passed on to them a month after the holidays departed.

Charlotte admitted her business hadn’t ring-fenced agents’ commissions, using the income instead to cover her overheads. “There was never a problem with this, all agents were paid every month, in fact they were often paid early,” she said. “The business was never at risk of going bust, it was extremely profitable. I was always in the top five of Midcounties homeworker groups.”

However, Charlotte said she ‘took her eye of the ball’ last summer when she separated from her husband. “I wasn’t keeping track of things, but there was always money in the accounts to pay agents and salaries,” she insisted.

There was an outstanding VAT bill for £58,294, she said, but insisted that she could have raised enough money selling holidays to clear the debt within five months. 

“I had made a plan with Andrew to clear the debt, but I wasn’t given the chance, I was shut down. I know that agents have lost their commission, but I have lost everything. 

Andrew said that he ended their commercial agreement when he became aware that Charlotte had spent agents’ commission, along with money that he thought had been been set aside for VAT payments.

However, Charlotte added: “I’m going to fight to prevent my company being dissolved, I’m working with my accountants to get it sorted. I don’t know what the future holds, but I know I had a good business.”

She said that prior to the end of her commercial agreement with AEH she had been planning to join Protected Trust Services (PTS) and had been working with them since March 2023 to transfer her business. LHH had a go-live date of 27 November with PTS, said Charlotte, however she was informed in mid-November that the onboarding had been cancelled.

This has frightened us to death

Four of LHH’s 123 agents told Travel Gossip they were each owed at least £2,000. Another, Elaine McGowan, said she has a £200,000 honeymoon in the Maldives booked last May and departing this month, and she’d just taken a £30,000 safari booking when she was told she had to stop selling.

“Charlotte has had that £10,000 commission from my Maldives booking but I won’t be paid now, even though I am still taking care of those clients,” she said.

Elaine, who has taken on a job as a support worker, is her household’s main bread-winner and she has a disabled husband. “This has frightened us to death, to be honest,” she said.  “I am still expected to do the work on these bookings, for this wedding. Every time someone has a query, they [Luxe Holidays] pass it on to me, but it’s crazy that I am working for nothing.”

One LHH homeworker, Albena Kalaydzhieva (pictured above) said she was owed about £2,600 for bookings made for holidays that departed from December to February. She has since moved to Your Holiday Booking, but she added: “At the moment I am very reluctant to sell holidays after everything that has happened. It was a huge blow for me because I was relying on that money.

Albena said she had ‘considered Charlotte a friend’ and was shocked when she realised she wasn’t going to be paid for her bookings.

Homeworkers were last paid in November, for bookings that had already travelled, but Charlotte said she can’t make any more payments to homeworkers because she hasn’t been paid by AEH for bookings made since September. 

“I am owed for bookings from 1 October till mid-November and I’m fairly confident that if this was paid it would cover what the agents are owed,” said Charlotte. “I want those hard-working agents to be paid.”

Andrew Earle admits he has received commission for those bookings, which hasn’t yet been paid to LHH, but he insists that since his contract is with LHH he can’t pay the homeworkers directly. Instead, he has advised them to invoice LHH for any commission they’re owed. 

He said LHH has yet to invoice him for bookings taken since the end of September, but he has invoiced LHH for £52,000 for the cost of handling the forward booking AEH has taken over, and for the return of commission for holidays that were subsequently cancelled.

“We have incurred, and continue to incur costs such as wages, software fees etc for managing the bookings as well as taking losses of commissions where bookings have been cancelled by either the client or the tour operator,” added Andrew.  

“I expect the overall costs and lost commissions which cannot be reclaimed to be in the region of £100,000.

“If there are any commissions remaining available after the last booking has travelled (in February 2026), they will be made available to the company Luxury Holidays and Honeymoons Limited, or any authority appointed to manage down the company affairs should the company suffer the ‘strike off threat’.

Charlotte told Travel Gossip she has been unable to invoice AEH because she no longer has access to her systems, but she said she has requested a breakdown from Andrew and plans to invoice AEH when she receives it. She said she’s confident this will cover what is owed to homeworkers and ‘potentially save the business’.

New homeworking agencies launched

Travel Gossip understands that the bulk of LHH agents have moved to other agencies including Not Just Travel and Your Holiday Booking, and a handful have launched their own agencies 

SB Luxury Travel was set up by one of LHH’s top sellers Sarah Bahous in early November 2023. Like LHH, it has a commercial arrangement with Andrew Earles Holidays.

LHH former Operations Manager Michelle Sinclair and Business Development Manager Vanessa Knights set up their own travel franchise, Just Travel, also in early November 2023. It is part of Protected Trust Services.

LV Prestige Travel was launched by two former LHH agents, Vicky Yates-McCowan and Lyn Cooper in late November and they have been joined by several other LHH homeworkers.

Andrew said he gave all LHH agents the opportunity to transfer to Luxe Holidays on a temporary basis to allow them to continue trading until they found new homeworking groups. Six have opted to remain with Luxe Holidays but he has no plans to offer terms to anyone else, he added.

Share this article

Latest News